«Farewell, my Dichterliebe…»: Schumann, Kurtág, and the Intertext, in Achingly-Tender Tones





Kurtág and Schumann, Dichterliebe and Requiem for a Friend, intertextuality, resonance, musico-poetic analysis, analysis/interpretation, phenomenology in music analysis


A post-modern concept of intertextuality allows for re-contextualization and re-interpretation of familiar and unfamiliar music, thus offering intriguing structural and semantic insights, otherwise unapparent. This article focuses on two fragments: Schumann’s “Im wunderschönen Monat Mai” from Dichterliebe (1840), and György Kurtág’s “Farewell, my beloved” from Requiem for a Friend (1982–1987). Schumann’s nostalgically naïve first Lied of the cycle is a true Romantic fragment with its structural clarity and intentional incompleteness, where the thought or emotion expressed in Heine’s text is musically suggested, but not insisted upon. Kurtág’s “Farewell, my beloved …” set to a poem by Rimma Dalos, is a reflective and lyrical piece in aphoristic Post-Webernian / Post-Bartókian style. While being sensitive to the intrinsic structural characteristics of the poem, Kurtág’s offers his creative reading of Dalos’ text. Employing close structuralist musico-poetic analysis of both pieces and the concept of intertextuality, I suggest that Schumann’s Lied and Kurtág’s art song may be viewed as one intertexual whole. The connectedness between the two works reveals itself through the examination of their gestural content, extending to deeper levels of their respective structures/semantics to form new intertext — a framework for interpretation of each fragment separately and also together. Paraphrasing Michael Klein, each of the two fragments, as newly heard, has no existence prior to one another2 . A newly created intertext offers insights into Schumann’s famous Lied while revealing the depth of lightness and darkness in Kurtág’s art song

Author Biography

Dina Lentsner, Capital University

Ph.D. Professor of Music Theory and Composition


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